Content tagged “Tourism and leisure”

City Pork purchased by owner of Leroy's, Frankie's Dawg House

City Pork, the charcuterie that opened near the Perkins Road overpass in December, is under new ownership. The restaurant was acquired in late January by Exclamation Point Hospitality Group, a newly formed restaurant company that also owns Leroy's on Nicholson Drive and Frankie's Dawg House on Perkins Road. “We have three unique concept restaurants and obviously, right now, City Pork is the hot one,” says Stephen Hightower, who created Exclamation Point Hospitality early this year when he decided to buy City Pork. “But I think they all complement each other and will grow.” Exclamation Point Hospitality acquired a majority of City Pork's ownership from Trey Williams, who co-founded the charcuterie with Chase Lyons. Lyons is still a partner in City Pork. “I had a great time creating the concept and bringing something new to Baton Rouge,” says Williams. “But it's a tough business and I did not see myself able to take City Pork to the level that...

BR tourism officials gearing up for a big summer

Local tourism officials are gearing up for a blockbuster summer, with three major events set to take place back to back between Memorial Day weekend and late June. The three-day Bayou Country Superfest will be May 23-25 in LSU's Tiger Stadium, followed by the Miss USA Pageant June 8 at the Baton Rouge River Center. The pageant will be followed by the U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Tournament June 19-26, a weeklong event expected to bring some 15,000 visitors to Baton Rouge. "It is going to be a fantastic summer," says Christy Chachere, communications coordinator for Visit Baton Rouge. "All three events reach very different target markets and attract visitors in-state, out of state and international." Though the Miss USA Pageant will technically bring the fewest visitors to the area—an estimated 4,000 or so tickets will be sold—it has the potential to bring the most exposure to the Capital Region. Event organizers and contestants arrive several weeks early and, as the pageant...

New barbecue food truck getting ready to roll in Mid City, downtown areas

Millie's Bar-B-Q, a new mobile food concept that will focus on the Mid City and downtown Baton Rouge areas, hopes to be rolling by June, says owner Claudia Gray. The food "truck" will be more like a trailer, Gray says, and will offer menu items like barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers and chicken six days a week. "We'll have pretty much anything BBQ," she says. In addition to Mid City and downtown, she hopes to reach out to and serve the industrial plants near those areas. Gray says she is working on setting up the first trailer right now, but hopes to add a second one down the road. Her previous experience in the food industry includes working for her brother's restaurant, Ray's BBQ, which was located at N. 38th Street and South Choctaw Drive but has since closed. Millie's occupies an office in Mid City Tower—formerly the Dean Tower—along with E&C Management Group, Gray's...

'225 Dine': Omi 'an underrated gem' offering hibachi, sushi and more

"An underrated gem in Baton Rouge's food scene is Omi," writes 225's Matthew Sigur in his review of the restaurant from the latest 225 Dine e-newsletter. The restaurant has a mix of Japanese dishes, such as sushi rolls and plates from the Hibachi grill, as well as authentic Chinese cuisine sans the typical buffet line. "For starters, try the spring roll, which consists of two of the traditional Asian favorite appetizers chopped into six bites," Sigur suggests. "Each piece is jammed with crabstick, cucumber, avocado, masago, tamago and onions, topped with the restaurant's special white sauce. The crunch of the roll and flavorful burst makes the usually standard fare a standout." On the entrée side, Sigur says you can't go wrong with Black Pepper Beef—"a sizzling dish served piping hot in a cast-iron dish with a broth of garlic, onions and celery with a side bowl of steamed white rice." Though the location, 7951 One Calais Ave., was once considered an eyesore, with...

Former LSU students can now search for McDonald's refunds online

The names of approximately 3,900 former LSU students have been added to the state's database for unclaimed properties, meaning former students can now search online to see if they are owed money as a result of an alleged scheme by which former restaurant employees at the Baton Rouge campus stole more than $30,000 over the past year. "LSU reached out to us to help return this money, and we are happy to do so," says Treasurer John Kennedy in a press release issued today. "Our Unclaimed Property Division refunds money day in and day out, and we will work hard to help people claim what rightfully belongs to them." Kennedy says LSU is reimbursing current students for money lost in the alleged scheme—for which at least seven former employees have have been arrested or issued summons by police—and has turned over the names of alumni and former students to Kennedy's office to handle refunds. According to police, the former employees overcharged students' meal plan cards in the...

LPK Bar & Grill closes on Corporate, new Mexican restaurant to take its place

LPK Bar & Grill has closed its doors and removed its name from the building at 7474 Corporate Blvd., in a retail center across from Towne Center, while signage for a new Mexican restaurant and bar has gone up on the space. While those behind the new venture—called Trios Mexican Bar & Grill—could not be reached for comment this afternoon on when the new business will open, it's apparent they're set to replace LPK. On the closed restaurant's door today was a note apologizing to LPK customers for any inconvenience the closing has caused, as well as a brief notice that Trios has applied for its alcohol permit. Construction workers were working on the restaurant's interior. Trios was listed in the February report of new business registrations under the legal name of Rabiyah Inc. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State's website, Rabiyah Inc. was also filed in February by Issam Elzahr. LPK did not return calls for comment. Elzahr—who is also listed as the agent and...

Zeeland Street Market, Louie's Café seek permission to serve alcohol

If all goes as planned, popular Garden District eatery Zeeland Street Market and the new Louie's Café near the LSU campus will both be serving alcohol. Applications to rezone the respective properties to allow for alcohol service were filed with the Planning Commission. The owners of Louie's are seeking a rezoning of the former Wendy's on Lake Street, which is located less than a block away from the building Louie's is currently operating in and has called home since 1986. The owners purchased the building last month for $825,000, with plans to recreate the look and feel of the existing Louie's as much as possible. Also filed with the Planning Commission recently is a rezoning request from Gary Whitehead, who wants 2.14 acres at 14757 South Harrell's Ferry Road to be rezoned from rural to LC2 for the construction of an office and retail center. Zoning change applications were also...

Wine Loft at Perkins Rowe closes after lease problems

The Wine Loft at Perkins Rowe has closed its doors after the owners were unable to negotiate a new lease agreement, says Donna Taylor, senior vice president of Stirling Management, which took over management of the the mixed-use development in January. "They closed this past Sunday because they were not current in their obligations with their landlord," Taylor says. "I think the landlord and the prior management company did try to work with them on a solution, but unfortunately they couldn't work it out." Taylor says a number of tenants are interested in moving into Perkins Rowe. While the vacated space would be a natural fit for another bar and restaurant concept, Taylor says, "there are several options out there … and we're going to bring in the best tenant that we can." According to the company's website, there are 10 Wine Loft locations in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. NOLA.com reports a Mandeville...

Sammy's Grill owner 'in negotiations' to open new restaurant and bar concept at The Oasis

Developer Chris Shaheen says he is close to inking a deal with Sammy's Grill owner Sammy Nagem to develop a "sports bistro and patio bar" as a part of The Oasis, an entertainment-recreational complex he plans to create on a 6-acre plot at Burbank Drive and South Kenilworth. "We are currently in negotiations with Sammy's," Shaheen confirms, noting the restaurant and bar will be a new concept and will not carry the Sammy's namesake brand. "We are hoping to have everything tied up within the next two weeks and are hoping to start construction sometime at the end of May." The 5,500-square-foot restaurant will open out onto a 10,000-square-foot, climate-controlled deck that will include "the largest outdoor TV screen ever," Shaheen says, adding that The Oasis will be big enough to host movie nights, video game tournaments and other such events. Phase one of construction will include the restaurant and bar, as well as an entertainment deck and five volleyball courts—all of which...

New oyster bar on tap for downtown aiming for something 'totally different'

A new oyster bar called Jolie Pearl is set to open by the summer in the buildings at 311 and 315 North Blvd. downtown. "One of those two buildings was originally named Jolie, so that is why we chose the name," says Rick Volland, who is part-owner in the new venture and also owns the Stroubes and Capital City Grill restaurants downtown. "We like the historical significance of that." The buildings—which together total 3,000 square feet and previously housed The Downtown Newsstand and Jobe's Cafe—will remain separated by a wall, but will have an opening between them. One half will feature a traditional oyster bar and table seating; the other half will be available for catering and parties. "Downtown doesn't have a lot of oysters," Volland says. "Everyone has a fried oyster po-boy, but we're trying to bring something in that is totally different." To that end, Jolie Pearl will stick to a menu with few items outside of oysters. The restaurant will serve raw, baked and...

Pat's Cajun Seafood and Steak to move in to former Las Palmas on Jefferson

Pat's Cajun Seafood and Steak, which has two other locations in south Louisiana, will occupy the former Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant—which closed last year—on Jefferson Highway between Essen Lane and Corporate Boulevard. "We're trying to open up in June," says owner and head chef Jude Huval, adding that renovations include adding on a crawfish boiling shack behind the kitchen and installing tin and cypress boards inside. "We're trying to give it that Cajun look." Huval's parents, Pat and Agnes, opened the original Pat's Fisherman's Wharf in 1952 in Henderson and quickly became known for their Cajun specialties. Thirty years later, Huval's sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Ricky Perioux, opened the second location—Pat's of Henderson—in Lake Charles. Huval, a graduate of the Louisiana Culinary Institute, has spent his career working at the original Pat's in Henderson, and in 2012 he competed on Food Network's Chopped, a reality television series on...

'225 Dine': CrawFete is just around the corner

The Baton Rouge Epicurean Society will hold its third annual CrawFête Thursday, April 3, at Mockler Beverage Company, 11811 Reiger Road. And as 225 Dine reports, the gourmet crawfish festival will feature some of Baton Rouge's most talented chefs preparing their best crawfish dishes. The participating restaurants are Bin 77, Culinary Productions, Galatoire's Bistro, Hot Tails Restaurant, Juban's, Latil's Landing Restaurant at Houmas House Plantation, Mestizo, Outback Steakhouse, The Pelican House, Ralph & Kacoo's, Restaurant IPO, Ruffino's, Sammy's Grill and Catering, Stroubes and Sullivan's Steakhouse. Tickets are $50 per person. Proceeds support the Epicurean Society's childhood health and nutrition programs in the greater Baton Rouge area. One dish from the menu that caught our eye: a crawfish and lobster tower from Chef Jeremy Langlois of Latil's Landing. The plate is piled with spiced Louisiana crawfish and lobster salad, layered with avocado and papaya and served with...

The Grill taking over former Galatoire's location on Perkins

After sitting vacant for the past three years, the former Galatoire's Bistro location on Perkins Road, near Highland Road and Interstate 10, will soon house a restaurant again. Jay Sadeq—who closed his Prairieville restaurant, Charlie Brown's Family Sports Bar and Grill, in September 2013—will open The Grill in the space at 17451 Perkins Road, next to Patti Dupree Furniture and Interiors. Sadeq says he aims to offer a casual grill in an area where several high-end restaurants such as French Market Bistro, Ruffino's and Le Creolé dominate. While Charlie Brown's menu highlighted burgers, po-boys and wings, The Grill will offer a greater variety of steaks and veal chops as well as emphasize fresh seafood items, such as chargrilled oysters, and healthy specials, such as quinoa dishes, Sadeq says. Prices at The Grill will be “mid-range,” Sadeq says, slightly...

Freshening up the brand

At the start of the new year, CC's Coffee House came into its own.

Donnie Jarreau developing Sonic in Central

Donnie Jarreau is developing a new Sonic location in Central for a locally based franchisee who has several other Sonic restaurants in the Capital Region. In a deal that closed Friday, Jarreau acquired a parcel near the Central Thruway for $390,000 from SDI of Central City LLC. Per the agreement, Jarreau will develop the restaurant as a build to suit, and then sell it back to SDI of Central City. According to the Secretary of State's website, SDI of Central City is owned by Larry Tucker, who also owns several other Sonic locations in the area. Jarreau says most of the commercial development in Central is still near the existing retail corridors of Sullivan, Wax, Greenwell Springs and Hooper roads. However, the opening of the Central Thruway last summer has created new opportunities, particularly for fast-food outlets and convenience stores. "You have more people coming to and from work," he says. "So ideally they'll stop for breakfast and dinner." The new Sonic will be 1,200 square...

Stabiler bringing new restaurant concept to Jefferson, says he has more in mind

Wayne Stabiler, who has created popular restaurants such as The Little Village and Le Creolé—and more recently opened Stab's Steak and Seafood in Central—tells Daily Report he closed today on the purchase of a Jefferson Highway site on which he plans to develop a new restaurant concept. "We're really excited. There's just something about the energy in that area that I really like," says Stabiler of the property at 7666 Jefferson Highway, which is located just across the street from Bocage Village. Stabiler says he's still finalizing the new concept and restaurant name and is not ready to discuss those details just yet, but will likely have an announcement in the coming months. "We're looking to be the hot spot in Baton Rouge with this one," he says. "I'm also looking to make an announcement in the next few months on several other concepts that I'm planning to bring to town." Stabiler, who also owns a namesake catering company, says he purchased the Jefferson...

Louie's owners hope to recreate existing atmosphere in new location

The owners of Louie's Café plan to spend more than $200,000 renovating the former Wendy's building on Lake Street—which, as Daily Report first reported Thursday, they've purchased for $825,000—and will attempt to recreate the look and feel of the existing Louie's as much as possible. "It will take a little bit of work to turn a Wendy's into a Louie's," says co-owner Jimmy Wetherford Jr., who along with Frank Duvic has owned the business since 1978. "But we're going to recreate it as closely as we can with the open counter and cooking." Wetherford and Duvic plan to relocate their 24-hour eatery to its nearby new digs—located less than a block away from the building Louie's has called home since 1986—by the end of the summer. "We weren't looking to move," Wetherford says. "But the building had a 'For Sale' sign on it, and it's one of just two...

'225 Dine': Nick Hufft talks the new Curbside at local Barcadia

When Nick Hufft announced he would be taking his talents to New Orleans, setting up his beloved Curbside Burgers inside Barcadia Bar and Grill, he knew he'd hear complaints from Capital City customers. "It was a very tough decision," Hufft tells 225 Dine. "[Baton Rouge] is where my business started and made its name. The only reason we agreed to go to New Orleans and set up with Barcadia is the opportunity to come back to Baton Rouge. From day one, we told Barcadia that we wanted to bring this to Baton Rouge. We knew this would blow up here." After getting Curbside up and running successfully in New Orleans, Hufft and Barcadia's Louisiana operating partner Stan Ripp started looking at options here. In mid-February, Hufft confirmed that Curbside Burgers would return as part of the new Baton Rouge Barcadia in the former Serranos at 3347 Highland Road. Hufft says the venture will...

Louie's Café owners buy nearby Wendy's that closed last year

The former Wendy's restaurant near the LSU North Gates at 3322 Lake St.—which closed late last year—was sold Wednesday for $825,000 to Lake Street 3322 LLC, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court today. The buying LLC is represented by James Wetherford Jr. and Frank Duvic, who are listed as the president and vice president, respectively, of Louie's Café Inc. on the Secretary of State's website. Louie's, a 24-hour diner, is located at 209 W. State Street—just around the corner from the Wendy's. The seller in the deal was Diamond Land Co. LLC, represented by Donald L. Feinstein. In an unrelated deal recorded by the Clerk of Court today, the Louisiana Housing Corp., represented by Executive Director Frederick Tombar III, purchased a property at 11637 Industriplex Blvd. for $1,023,034. The seller in the deal was The Louisiana Association of Community Action Partnerships Inc., represented by Dorothy Oliver, its president and COO.

New Juban's Grille coming to Highland Park area

Real estate agent George Kurz and Kean's Fine Dry Cleaning owner Rock Rockenbaugh have filed a permit with the Planning Commission to develop Juban's Grille, a new restaurant that will be located in a retail development adjacent to Alexander's Highland Market, near the intersection of Highland and Old Perkins roads. As its name suggests, the new venture will also be affiliated with the venerable Juban's restaurant in Southdowns, though details remain under wraps for now. Juban's manager, Scott Callais, will say only that the restaurant will make an announcement about Juban's Grille in the next few weeks. According to records filed at the Planning Commission, the new restaurant will be 6,662 square feet and will serve alcohol. This is not Rockenbaugh's first project in the burgeoning area off Highland Road. Last fall, he confirmed plans to open a new Kean's location in the Highland...

Ruffino's moving offices and catering business downtown

Ruffino's is relocating its corporate headquarters and catering operation to De La Ronde Hall at 320 Third St. downtown, and plans to offer banquet and catering services for up to 500 patrons in the 8,500-square-foot space. "This location is the 50-yard-line of Baton Rouge, and it's probably the prettiest facility in the city," says Ruffino's co-owner Ruffin Rodrigue, who adds the new location will be called Ruffino's Catering and Events at De La Ronde Hall. "There is so much going on downtown, and this is where we want to be." Rodrigue says he and co-owner Peter Sclafani, Ruffino's executive chef, have been eyeing downtown for some time but were not yet ready to open a third full-service restaurant there, given their expansion last year with a Lafayette restaurant. "This enables us to have a presence downtown," he says. "We want to invest downtown." With the new endeavor comes a new partner: Howard Walker. He's the general manager of Ruffino's Highland Road restaurant and will join...

Hardee's to take over shuttered Backyard Burger locations in B.R., Denham Springs

Little more than two years after opening at 2327 O'Neal Lane, Backyard Burgers has closed its doors, making way for Hardee's to make its Baton Rouge debut. Paradigm Investment Group, the second largest Hardee's franchisee, last week purchased three stand-alone Backyard Burgers buildings—the O'Neal Lane location, as well as one each in Denham Springs and Mandeville—as part of a development agreement the group signed with Hardee's Corporate to develop 30 new restaurants in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area markets over the next seven years, says Greg Hazard, Paradigm's chief operating officer. Paradigm currently owns and operates 97 Hardee's locations across the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi. "It's a natural extension for us to go into Baton Rouge and New Orleans, because it's contiguous to our current territory," Hazard says. In addition to offering the standard Hardee's menu, each of the 30 new restaurants in Louisiana will also introduce Hardee's Mexican...

Downtown B.R. hotels get boost from Mardi Gras bookings

While New Orleans hotels have been full with Carnival revelers over the five-day Mardi Gras holiday, those visitors are not translating into spillover crowds in Baton Rouge hotels, according to those in the industry. Nevertheless, officials at the city's growing number of downtown hotels say they have enjoyed some of their busiest weekends yet, thanks to local Mardi Gras festivities. "We have had 100% occupancy over the past three weekends," says Francis Grayson, general manager of Hotel Indigo. "And this was our biggest Mardi Gras since we opened three years ago." DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer says he received similar reports from top brass at the city's other downtown properties. "All the hotels were sold out last weekend," says Rhorer. "More importantly, several have had high occupancy rates in the 80% to 90% range over the past several months. That is very good news for downtown and quite high in the market." Citywide hotel occupancy rates in Baton Rouge typically average...

Jumpstart

For years Bill Qasem had his eye on the space in Siegen Marketplace that was home to Pancho's Mexican Buffet.

​'225 Dine': Tiger Deaux-nuts moving to Mid City

Tiger Deaux-nuts' gourmet flavors will call Mid City home come late April. Owner Jeff Herman tells 225 Dine his business on Jones Creek Road is moving to the Goodwood Shopping Center—whose tenants include Reginelli's and MJ's Café—in the former location of Hemingway's, a cigar and pipe tobacco shop at 684 Jefferson Hwy. Herman says he hopes the store will be open by around Easter, which falls on April 20 this year. The location will be open six or seven days a week for pick-up orders and will offer some room for dining in. Herman says he's also thinking about expanding the menu to offer savory donut options, biscuits, breakfast pastries and lunch. "I have a lot of ideas floating around," he says. "The main thing is that the gourmet donuts will be going in full force. We'll have lots of different creations, and the menu will be refreshed." Herman, an LSU grad, says his current location—which has been open since 2012—is poorly located and the Mid City...

It's (almost) official: Cane's coming downtown

One of downtown's worst-kept secrets is finally official: Raising Cane's will open its first downtown location in the iconic Richoux Building on the corner of North Third Street and Florida Street later this year. Cane's hung a banner Tuesday afternoon on the exterior of the building, reading: "Cane's Coming Soon. Now Hiring." A company spokesperson confirms today that Cane's will occupy about 3,000 square feet of the available 8,000 square feet on the ground floor, and hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-summer. "It's another game changer for downtown," says DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer. "It is a very successful national franchise and the idea that it is homegrown, here in Baton Rouge, and locating down here is very significant for the climate of downtown." The 11,000-square-foot building, best known for its neon rooftop Coca-Cola sign, was acquired last spring by local businessman Mike Crouch for $1.2 million. At the time, he said he hoped to lease the second-floor...

Santa Fe Cattle Co. to take over Coursey location being vacated by Walk-On's

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar is closing its Coursey Boulevard restaurant, making way for Baton Rouge's first Santa Fe Cattle Co. restaurant, which will open in the former Walk-On's space later this spring. The announcement was made today via a press release from Walk-On's. It comes on the heels of two other big announcements for the restaurant. In late January, Last In Concepts—the parent company of Walk-On's, Happy's Irish Pub, The Roux House and Schlittz & Giggles—announced its co-founders, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, were parting ways. And in late December, Walk-On's announced plans to open a new location in Towne Center, in the space vacated by Mugshots Grill & Bar, which closed in November. The Coursey Boulevard location will be the sixth in Louisiana for Sante Fe Cattle Co., which...

Beausoleil talks expansion, new cocktail menu

Beausoleil Restaurant & Bar will have a new bar and banquet space next door by early summer, co-owner Jeff Conaway tells 225. The new concrete-top bar will feature room for about 16 patrons, and a banquet space with room for 50 will be located in the back. Conaway says the new bar will be an important addition for the restaurant—located at 7731 Jefferson Highway—which currently has a small bar with just enough room for a few patrons waiting for a table. "The bar we have now is an area where people that are dining might want to have a martini before they sit down," he says. "But if I were to take you back there to see all the ingredients we have, you'd be amazed. There is so much that we can highlight [with a designated bar space], it's insane." Beausoleil is taking over the roughly 2,000 square feet of space next to the existing restaurant that's been vacated by I Love Shoes. The new space will be used to accommodate private parties and on-site catering. Though...

Willy's Chicken and Waffles set to open on Nicholson

The owner of a new chicken and waffles restaurant says he hopes to be open at 3285 Nicholson Drive, in the former location of Tigris Deli, by the end of the month. Greg Williams, owner of Willy's Chicken and Waffles, is a Baton Rouge native and former Raising Cane's executive who left the area after Hurricane Katrina and started working as a restaurant consultant with VSAG in Austin, Texas, as well as with Piccadilly's food service division. Williams says he got the idea for his new restaurant after seeing the success of Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles and Big Mama's in Dallas. "I thought about how good a concept like that would be in the South," he says. "The reason for opening is, 'Why not?' Everybody loves chicken, and I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like a waffle." While several local restaurants serve chicken and waffles, Willy's will be Baton Rouge's first restaurant dedicated solely to the popular pairing. The restaurant will have four combos, including a...

'N.Y. Times' takes a day trip through B.R.

"Louisiana's capital has neither the nonstop party scene nor the obvious cultural charm of its more celebrated neighbor to the southeast, yet this laid-back Mississippi River town offers a unique appeal," reads a new New York Times travel feature on Baton Rouge published online today. "The French, Spanish, Creole and Cajun influences of its three-century history blend with the youthful spirit of Louisiana State University's nearly 30,000 students, stewing up a Southern mélange that's on full display during Baton Rouge's own Mardi Gras celebrations, through March 1, as well as events like the Baton Rouge Blues Festival (April 12)." The feature is a virtual day trip through Baton Rouge, with stops at some of the city's local landmarks and lesser-known treasures. "Along rural roads and in revitalized downtown neighborhoods, inside strip malls and by industrial sites, this unheralded city reveals a dynamic musical heritage and rich culinary history that demand to be discovered,"...

'225 Dine': Bistro Byronz to open second B.R. location this fall

Bistro Byronz, a neighborhood restaurant with locations on Government Street in Baton Rouge as well as in Mandeville and Shreveport, will open its second Capital City location in late fall. Bistro Byronz co-owner Emelie Kantrow Alton tells 225 Dine the new location will be at The Settlement at Willow Grove development on Perkins Road. When complete, the traditional neighborhood development will feature a commercial center called The Village at Willow Grove, which will include the restaurant. Willow Grove developer Richard Carmouche is also a partner in the new Bistro Byronz location. It will be slightly bigger than the Government Street restaurant, but with a similar design and atmosphere, Alton says. She says the owners had been looking at options for an additional Baton Rouge location for the last half-decade. The new Bistro Byronz has the right location and a prime partnership, she says, and is in "the right area to get us to the other side of town and reach some customers...

Mediterranean grill, Middle Eastern market and hookah bar to open on Siegen

The Siegen Village shopping center space that for years was home to the kitsch-classic Pancho's Mexican Buffet is the site of a new Mediterranean grill that, eventually, will expand to include a Middle Eastern market and a patio hookah bar. Zoroona, which is Arabic for "come visit us," is scheduled to open next week in the 6,400-square-foot space at 6900 Siegen Lane, featuring a wider array of Mediterranean cuisines than many of the predominantly Lebanese restaurants and cafés in the area, says owner Bill Qasem, who has worked in restaurant management for years but never owned his own establishment until now. "We are mostly Greek and Lebanese but will also have food from Cyprus and a little more variety than you are accustomed to seeing around here," he says. Qasem chose the shopping center for his new venture because of the high traffic count and local ethnic population, and also because he knows the restaurant clientele in the area, having run the McAlister's Deli across the street...

Second Fresh Junkie to open by late February

The second Fresh Junkie location planned for downtown is scheduled to open by the end of the month, about three months later than originally scheduled. Owner Pat Fellows—who juggles his restaurant business around a full-time career as a sales rep for Mizuno shoes—says his plans for a fall 2013 opening fell behind due to construction delays. "Then with the holidays and the weather and the fact that January is my biggest month for Mizuno, I decided to wait until February," he says. "We only have about six actual days worth of work left until it's completed, but they have to happen in order." Fellows' second Fresh Junkie will be located at 303 North Blvd.—in the space previously occupied by Capital Creamery—and will feature new menu items as well as standards from the original location in the Main Street Market. The new restaurant, which will feature outdoor seating, will take online orders for pickup or delivery. It will also experiment with some new...

Breakfast and brunch spot coming to former Casa Maria space on College

A New Orleans restaurant owner has signed a three-year lease for the 4,000-square-foot space on College Drive previously occupied by Casa Maria Mexican Grill and Bar and plans to open a New Orleans-style breakfast and brunch cafe in the space in early April. The new eatery will be called Rue Orleans Breakfast and Brunch Café and will feature a Creole-influenced menu that will include standard breakfast fare like pancakes and also more sophisticated brunch items like eggs Benedict. "I'm just trying to bring the flavor of New Orleans to Baton Rouge," says Rue Orleans owner Katrina Wyman, who moved to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina but has continued to operate a small diner in Gretna, on New Orleans' West Bank. Wyman says she chose the College Drive location, which is in a strip shopping center anchored by Hobby Lobby, because of its proximity to LSU, Interstate 10 and many residential neighborhoods. "It's a great area and one thing we found is that there is a real demand for...

'Business Report': The story behind the breakup of one of B.R.'s most successful restaurant partnerships

When Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar celebrated its 10th anniversary last September, few suspected its co-founders and longtime partners—Brandon Landry and Jack Warner—were on the verge of splitting up. After all, Landry and Warner were a team, and the Landry-Warner narrative is central to the whole Walk-On's brand: Two improbable hoopsters walk on to the LSU basketball team in the mid-1990s, spend the better part of the season on the bench, become fast friends, hatch the Walk-On's idea, and grow it into Last In Concepts, a multiconcept restaurant company with 12 locations and $27 million in revenue. As Stephanie Riegel writes in a new Business Report feature on the restaurateurs' split, the idea of Walk-On's without the two walk-ons was, well, almost inconceivable—and certainly not on the public radar when the restaurant proudly marked a decade in existence. In fact, though, by September Landry and Warner were well on their way to parting ways. Separation talks...

'225 Dine': Sugarbelle bakery expands with two new locations

Business has been going well for local baker Kasie Coleman at her Plank Road store Sugarbelle. So well, in fact, that 225 Dine reports Coleman plans to open another location this March in the former Sweet Wishes location at 10889 Perkins Road, and she will have a booth in Baton Rouge Community College's dining hall. The expansion comes less than one year after her original location opened. "I always wanted to expand, but I didn't think it would happen in less than a year," she says. "I get asked, 'Why are you way out here?' at least twice a day. When the former owner of Sweet Wishes reached out to me and asked if I wanted to take over [the location], I couldn't pass it up." The Perkins Road location will have a seating area and more baked goods options, including stuffed breads and cinnamon rolls, plus ice cream, in addition to her popular cupcakes, whoopie pies and praline brownies. With a bigger location, Coleman says she'll also be able to bring candy bar buffets and...

Burgersmith plans second B.R. location on Siegen Lane

Lafayette-based Burgersmith has plans to open its third location overall and second in Baton Rouge on Siegen Lane just north of TJ Ribs and The Plumbing Warehouse. Burgersmith operations director Russ Umbricht says the corporation is in final negotiations to lease space from Lake Charles developer Michael Hankins, who plans to build a 6,400-square-foot building on a vacant plot. Burgersmith would lease approximately 3,400 square feet of the building, leaving space for one or two other tenants. "This is a project geared around Burgersmith," says Hankins. "So we're trying to finalize their aspect of things" before pursuing other tenants. Burgersmith opened its first Baton Rouge location in the Acadian-Perkins Plaza in the fall of 2011. The shell of the new building is expected to be complete by June, Hankins says, giving Burgersmith time to finish their build-out before the end of the year. Hankins' application to rezone the Siegen property from CAB-1 to CAB-2 will be considered by the...

The big split

When Walk-On's Bistreaux and Bar celebrated its 10th anniversary last September, few suspected its co-founders and longtime partners, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, were on the verge of splitting up.

On the road: Chicago

As an executive in the local office of J.P. Morgan Chase Capital Corp., Mary Eymard spends several days a month on the road, traveling mostly to Houston or Chicago to oversee some of the company's investment properties. Here are some of her tips for travel to the Windy City.

Work meets play

Industrial construction executive Art Favre loves boating and fishing. When the founding president of Baton Rouge-based Performance Contractors bought his first sport fishing boat in 1993, he traveled up and down the Gulf Coast looking for a place to dock it permanently.

Frank Marcello

There's an aura of inevitability about Frankie Marcello's Restaurant.

Jury selection to begin in long-running suit between Little Village, former landlord

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in a long-running lawsuit between restaurateur Wayne Stabiler and the owners of the downtown building that previously housed his popular Italian restaurant. CDR Properties sued The Little Village in late 2010, shortly after the restaurant moved out of the building at 453 Lafayette St. and relocated to the nearby Kress Building. According to court documents, Little Village caused "extreme damage … to the premises, including removing items which had been installed and were the property of CDR." Court records allege the extreme damage included “numerous gouges, scrapes and digs in the floors; removal of flooring … gouges, scrapes and holes all the way through the dry wall; removal of ceiling tiles throughout, removal of a walk-in refrigeration unit and removal of a service bar … without permission." The suit does not specify a motive, but Rob Miller, who owns the property, says it appears the alleged actions were "all...

'225 Dine': Jasmines on the Bayou rolls out new menu items

The Cajun-style seafood and family restaurant Jasmines on the Bayou has made some changes to its menu to ring in the New Year. 225 Dine reports the Jones Creek Road restaurant has added new sandwiches, burgers, appetizers and entrée options. On the sandwich side, Jasmines has upped its game with The Sebastian, which features a crab cake topped with grilled shrimp, sautéed peppers, onions and melted mozzarella. A debris po-boy made from the restaurant's fork-tender pot roast, a Tiger Burger with grilled shrimp and smoked sausage, and a Rocket Burger topped with spicy fried shrimp and jalapenos have also been put on the menu, as well as a slow-cooked pot roast on a bed of linguine and a grilled chicken breast with crawfish tasso cream sauce. For dessert, Jasmines is now making cookie dough spring rolls. Get your fill of more local culinary news in the new 225 Dine e-newsletter.

Hot Tails chef to develop new upscale concept restaurant on Nicholson

Chef Cody Carroll, owner of Hot Tails in New Roads, is moving forward with plans for a new concept restaurant in Baton Rouge that will be located on a 4-acre tract on the north side of Nicholson Drive, between Lee Drive and GSRI Avenue. Carroll isn't ready to disclose the name of his new eatery yet, but says it won't be named Hot Tails and it won't feature the same down-home dishes that made his signature restaurant so popular. Instead, he says the Baton Rouge restaurant will offer more varied and sophisticated dishes on a more upscale menu that will focus on four distinct Louisiana food groups: Gulf seafood, game, river caught and farm raised. "We're going to really aim this restaurant at winning James Beard awards and things like that," says Carroll, who was the 2013 Louisiana Seafood King and next week will be cooking at the Sundance Film Festival. "We're not known for that...

Hot Tails taking its talents to Sundance

Next week's Sundance Film Festival will get a taste of Louisiana. New Roads-based Hot Tails Restaurant will prepare food for a Louisiana-style party at the festival in Park City, Utah, on Monday. Chef and co-owner Cody Carroll, who's also the 2013 Louisiana Seafood King, says the food will be a part of the Louisiana International Film Festival's free Voodoo Love party at Epic Night Club. Carroll says he got the call to participate after Hot Tails cooked at last year's Fête Louisiane, hosted by the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation. At Sundance, Carroll and his wife, Samantha, will be preparing gator grillades, vegetarian Creole corn bisque, Red Stick Revelry's winning cocktail the Istrouma Buzz and the Scratcher, which is a new spin on the traditional Bloody Mary. Next week's appearance in Utah isn't the first time Hot Tails has taken its flavors out of...

PoBoy Express to open fifth location in former Niche space

Locally based chain restaurant PoBoy Express hopes to have its fifth Capital Region location open by March in the Siegen Lane space formerly home to Niche Restaurant, which closed in October 2013 after four years in business. The new location will feature the same menu as the other PoBoy Express locations and a drive-thru. The Ismail family started PoBoy Express in the early 1990s. Since then, the chain has grown to include three locations in Baton Rouge and another in Denham Springs. Ause Ismail, the former co-owner of Niche, will be co-owner of the new PoBoy Express. He says his family went back and forth on several new restaurant concepts before deciding to stick with what they know best. "We tossed around the idea of doing a traditional, authentic Middle Eastern restaurant and serving food that no other restaurant would have, but we decided not to," he says. "Our...

Jimmy John's plans fourth B.R. location in Lee Drive retail center

Champaign, Ill.-based sandwich chain Jimmy John's plans to open its fourth Baton Rouge location in early fall at a new retail center at 1082 West Lee Drive, between Burbank and Nicholson drives. Jimmy John's will occupy about 1,800 square feet in a center that will include another 1,250-square-foot retail location. Ryan Greene of NAI/Latter & Blum Commercial Real Estate says he's still looking for a tenant for the adjoining space. Construction on the new center began in October, and Greene says it will be considered a part of a nearby retail outlet that's home to Caliente Mexican Craving and a currently vacant 7,500-square-foot space. The college demographic and single-family apartments in the area, in addition to the increased traffic accompanying the widening of Nicholson Drive, make the area ideal for another Jimmy John's location, Greene says. The chain—which has more than 1,600 locations in 40 states—has locations on Perkins Road, Coursey Boulevard and Third Street...

Willie's plans second B.R. restaurant on Coursey

Willie's Restaurant, a family-owned eatery located at 11950 Cloverland Ave., off of Airline Highway, is planning to open a second location on Coursey Boulevard. Willie's, which offers a traditional Louisiana menu featuring items such as frog legs, BBQ shrimp, grits "Nola style" and the "Saintsation" po-boy, opened its first location in 2009. Co-owner Willie Chapman says the second location will offer a slightly different concept, which he calls "Louisiana smokehouse meets Louisiana seafood." "We do all of our own cured hams, smoked turkeys, sausages and boudin," explains Chapman, who owns the restaurant with his sister, Emily Hazelwood. "But we currently run most of those options as weekly specials." In-house cured and smoked meats will become more of a focus at the new location, Chapman says. "Moving away from processed, pre-prepared food is the only way to be the best," he says. The second location will measure roughly 5,500 square feet and will be built across from the Sonic on...

'225 Dine': Chef prepares for James Beard House dinner

The Beard House will get another taste of Louisiana as Chef Jeremy Langlois brings his "Nouvelle Louisiane" cooking style to the New York destination this February. Langlois—who is chef and general manager of Latil's Landing, Café Burnside and The Carriage House at Houmas House plantation in Darrow—tells 225 Dine that cooking at the Beard House is something he's dreamed of since he was in high school. "This is so exciting for me," he says. "It's an honor to be invited by them. It's a bucket list item, for sure." The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization based in New York City. The foundation is most known for its annual awards, considered the Academy Awards for the restaurant industry. "It's the biggest foundation in regards to food and the restaurant industry," Langlois says. The 34-year-old will prepare a five-course dinner as well as hors d'oeuvres paired with select wines for up to 80 guests on Wednesday, Feb. 19. Access the full...

B.R. hotel occupancy down 8% last year

Hotel occupancy in Baton Rouge decreased more than 8% in 2013 over the previous year. But Visit Baton Rouge officials who released the figures at a meeting today say that they were not expecting last year to be as strong as 2012, when the city hosted the six-month-long U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championships, and that overall they are pleased with how the local market performed. "We had the Bowling Congress and Hurricane Isaac in the fall of 2012 (the latter of which boosted occupancy because of widespread power outages)," says Renee Areng, executive vice president for Visit Baton Rouge. "So the slight decrease was not unexpected." According to the organization's annual report, occupancy in 2013 decreased 8.3% and overall revenue was down 5.2%. However, room rates increased 0.4% in 2013, as did inventory, which was up 2.9%. The Hampton Inn opened downtown in 2013, and L'Auberge Casino & Hotel opened in the fall of 2012, together adding more than 200 new rooms to the local market.

'Restaurant Impossible' films episode at B.R. pizzeria

Mama Della's N.Y. City Pizzeria will have a chance at redemption this week. The pizzeria and Italian restaurant located on Jefferson Highway near Essen Lane will be the subject of an episode of the Food Network reality show Restaurant Impossible. The show's crew is set to hit town and film the episode this week. Host/chef Robert Irvine and a number of volunteers will be giving the restaurant a two-day makeover Thursday and Friday. A grand re-opening will take place Friday night. The Mama Della's episode is slated to premiere this fall in the show's eighth season. Details on the episode premiere have not been announced. The reality show features Irvine helping fledgling restaurants across the country in less than 48 hours and with $10,000. Mama Della's opened in the former Schlotzsky's location at 8190 Jefferson Highway in February 2012. Owner Barry Kalt, a New York native, prides himself on quality ingredients and

Beausoleil to expand catering business

Beausoleil Bar & Restaurant, the Bocage-area eatery that specializes in new Southern cuisine, is hoping to expand its growing catering business and has applied for a zoning change with the Planning Commission so that it can add on to its existing location in the Bocage Shopping Center. Jeff Conaway, who co-owns the three-year-old restaurant with chef Nathan Gresham, says the partners are not yet ready to discuss the details of their plan. But he says the restaurant has always been involved in the catering side of the business and would like to do even more. "We recently purchased new equipment and we want to be able to devote more time and energy to our banquet and catering services," he says. "It's a totally different business than being in the restaurant industry, but we have a lot of experience and the demand for what we can offer is super strong." Conaway says the partners' expansion into banquet and catering services is not a reflection of the restaurant's performance, but is a...

Ichiban Japanese Grill & Sushi Bar

Owner: Randy Wong
Architect: Tiger Park Architecture
Contractor: Joffrion Construction
Interior design: Tang Design, New York
Year completed: 2013

Towne Center makes five

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar has announced plans to open a new location at Towne Center in the space previously occupied by Mugshots Grill & Bar, which closed in early November.

Walk-On's to open Towne Center restaurant

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar has announced plans to open a new location at Towne Center in the space previously occupied by Mugshots Grill & Bar, which closed in early November. The latest Walk-On's—which will be the fifth location for the sports bar and restaurant chain overall and its third in Baton Rouge—will feature a slightly new design concept, with an outdoor beer garden, more than 80 TVs, and custom table beer taps that allow guests to serve themselves. Walk-On's co-founder Brandon Landry says the 8,500-square-foot space in Towne Center is a desirable location for several reasons: It fits with the restaurant's target demographic, it is easily accessible from all over the city and also there are no other sports bar/restaurants in the area. "We are thrilled about the opportunity to expand our brand and open a new location that truly fits our concept and our vision...

'225 Dine': Gumbo weather at Restaurant IPO

Now that the cold weather has finally come to Baton Rouge, it's a perfect time for some hot gumbo. Over the past couple of weeks, 225 Dine has had a few bowls of the Louisiana staple from The Chimes and George's. This week, the weekly e-newsletter turns its attention to the hen, oyster and andouille gumbo from Restaurant IPO. The restaurant's take on gumbo is similar to the kind Chef Scott Varnedoe's mother made, with one exception—substituting hen for her traditional duck. Varnedoe says he likes his roux dark, with a little bitterness to it, but not an overwhelming bitterness. He uses the hen to make a stock, with oysters and an oyster liquor to add richness to the gumbo, plus andouille to complete what he calls "the holy trinity." Patrons have been ordering it more, especially during these cooler temperatures. However, it's on the menu at all times. For Varnedoe, a good gumbo is made from "whatever you have on hand.” "It screams cold weather. It's hearty. Throw...

On holiday

Patrons of Magpie Café may have been surprised during the week of Thanksgiving to find the Perkins Road establishment closed for a fall vacation.

Trending now

It comes as no surprise that when Googlers search for cities, these five are at the top of the list: New York City, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Emigrant chefs

Baton Rouge native Sam Bayliss graduated from the Louisiana Culinary Institute nearly two years ago. A broken finger forestalled his career. A wrecked truck in a small Wyoming town jump-started it.

Restaurant delivery app wins Elevator Pitch Competition

Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week went high tech at LSU's second annual Elevator Pitch Competition on Tuesday evening, as six students presented 90-second business pitches to four successful local entrepreneurs. Civil engineering graduate student Ayan Mehrotra's Grub Drop website and smartphone app took the first place prize of one year in the LSU Student Incubator. Grub Drop enables students to place food delivery orders from any of the 45 restaurants within a two- to three-mile radius of campus—90% of which do not offer delivery services, Mehrotra said. Another app pitch, Campus Commodes, an interactive platform which allows students to rank and locate the best restrooms on campus, nabbed third place. "The pitch night was great practice to give us confidence," said Derek Worstell, who co-founded Campus Commodes with Daniel Garza. "And it was good to get feedback on our idea from professional entrepreneurs." Second place went to biological engineering student Daniel Rees, who...

'225 Dine': New Chinese restaurant goes beyond the same old thing

The LSU favorite Nine Dragon has expanded its business. 225 Dine reports 9 Dragon Noodle House, a bigger, healthier restaurant from the same owners, opened two weeks ago in the shopping center at Highland Road and Lee Drive. It is set in the former location of Saigon Noodle and Splendido! Frozen Yogurt. "Unlike the takeout-style Nine Dragon, the new noodle house—with a numeral in the name—is focused on a sit-down, more relaxed environment with almost triple the dining room space," 225 Dine says. "While the menu does feature traditional Chinese fare like the house specials of orange chicken and sesame chicken, one quick glance will show this restaurant isn't doing the same old thing." The menu also features an array of items like jellyfish, sautéed pig stomach, Szechuan dishes such as Ma Pu tofu, fish stomach soup and different takes on the rice dish Bibimbap, which features rice mixed with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, bean sprouts, ekoi, kimchi, minced pork,...

Restaurant to open in The Blues Room downtown

Downtown has been heating up for some time, but the real Hot Stuff is just arriving. Owner Virginia Goff says she's hoping to have Hot Stuff Restaurant open by Dec. 1 at 244 Lafayette St., where she will share the lease with The Blues Room. "It's going to stay a bar at night," Goff says, "and it'll be a full-service restaurant during the day." Goff, who has worked in the restaurant business for 25 years, says Hot Stuff will offer home-style cooking for breakfast and lunch and appetizers at night. Breakfast will include homemade biscuits, gravy and omelets, while sandwiches, salads and steaks will be served for lunch. Renovations are ongoing, Goff says, but the contractors have already added more lighting to the dining room area and repainted the building. They still have to run a new gas line and adjust the plumbing, she says. Goff, who left her management job at Frank's...

BullChicks to open first La. franchise in Baton Rouge

Corpus Christi, Texas-based fast-casual restaurant chain BullChicks is planning to open its first Louisiana franchise in Baton Rouge on Coursey Boulevard early next year. "We are definitely planning on further expanding in Louisiana," says BullChicks Chief Brand Officer Narisa Samji. "This is a corporate-owned location, but we will be looking for the right franchisees to open more locations in the state." BullChicks has seen rapid growth since the first location opened in Corpus Christi in 2006, Samji says. "We started franchising in 2010, and we've actually sold development rights in about 17 states." There are currently 11 BullChicks restaurants in five states, including California, Kansas, Minnesota and South Carolina in addition to Texas—where the majority of the locations are. BullChicks will open in a 3,155-square-foot space at 11135 Coursey Blvd. The company recently submitted its initial permitting applications with the city-parish, and it is in the process of finding a...

Quaker Steak & Lube locations planned in B.R., N.O., Lafayette

Pennsylvania-based restaurant chain Quaker Steak & Lube is making a move into Louisiana, with locations planned in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette and Lake Charles over the next five years, according to a news release issued today. Louisiana-based I-10 Hospitality inked a seven-restaurant deal to develop the four restaurants in the state, as well as three more outside the state. The first restaurant is projected to open early next year, with the remainder opening between then and 2018. I-10 Hospitality, which is a venture of business partners Geno Iafrate and Keith Portie, did not disclose today which Louisiana city would get the first Quaker Steak & Lube, which has 45 locations in 20 states and Canada. —Staff report

Mugshots to close, shoot for a younger market

Next weekend will be Mugshots Grill & Bar's last weekend in its Towne Center location, says Sean Cronin, owner and operator of the franchise's Baton Rouge restaurant. "It's a temporary close-down," Cronin says. "We're moving locations." While Cronin, who bought the Baton Rouge location in May, wouldn't say where Mugshots' next location will be, he says the grill is looking for a younger, campus-oriented market. The new location will be smaller in size than the restaurant’s current space at 7425 Corporate Blvd. Despite the name, Cronin describes Mugshots as a family-friendly restaurant. “We had originated as a bar in Hattiesburg, Miss., that just served a few hamburgers,” Cronin says. “But we’re now a full-blown restaurant that also offers gourmet sandwiches, pastas and salads—and just happens to offer drinks.” Mugshots opened a location in Covington on Oct. 8, and Cronin says the franchise plans to expand in Louisiana. The franchise has 12...

College Drive sees shakeup in Asian restaurant offerings

Three Asian restaurants in the College Drive area between Perkins Road and Interstate 10—Kamado's Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar, Great China and The Great Wall Restaurant—have closed within the past year, a trend which Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Real Estate attributes to market oversaturation. "I think it's probably because we have quite a few of them that have opened throughout the city," Hebert says. “I think the problem now is that we have an abundance [of Asian restaurants]." That's probably just the news Carlos Antunez wants to hear. Antunez plans to open Katrachos, a Honduran restaurant, by the first of November at 4554 Bennington Ave. in the space that formerly housed Great China, which landlord M.K. Wong says closed about a year ago. Katrachos will focus on Spanish food—which is different from Tex-Mex—notes Antunez, who's originally from Honduras. Antunez moved from New Jersey to Louisiana in 2001 and says he immediately noticed the absence of...

Frozen yogurt: The bubble bursts

Seven self-serve frozen yogurt shops in Baton Rouge closed in the past two years, indicating that the market may be melting. Commercial real estate agent Jonathan Walker points to bad location decisions as the culprit. As with any market trend, he notes, entrepreneurs eager to get a piece of the pie can overlook that key factor. "It's got to be where the traffic is," adds real estate broker Mark Hebert. "Typically, the concept works better from 6:30 to 9:30 at night, because you've just finished dinner, you want an evening dessert, and so it's got to be in the traffic patterns." With machines costing upwards of $100,000, Hebert stresses that location is the key to covering startup costs. "It's easier," he says, "to pick the wrong location than the right location." Chris Puckett, owner of two successful Yogurtlands in Baton Rouge, says success in the frozen yogurt industry hinges on three factors: high quality, competitive pricing, and shop cleanliness. "I think the ones that are most...

High job growth in Baton Rouge expected to draw more restaurants

Baton Rouge has been named one of the top nine hottest U.S. markets for job growth, Nation's Restaurant News reports, making it a prime area for restaurant operators to look to expand. The report cites Louisiana Workforce Commission figures, which project that the Capital Region should see employment grow 15.5% by 2020, or by about 37,700 new jobs. The report by NRN also notes employment in administrative and waste services is expected to increase by 33.9%. Professional, scientific and technical services is expected to rise 30.1%; transportation and warehousing is forecast to increase 27%; and construction is expected to jump 21.9%. Such significant job growth translates into sales potential for restaurants, says NRN. Other U.S. cities on the list of those expected to see the nation's greatest job growth through 2020 include New York City; Springfield, Mass.; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; San Antonio; El Paso, Texas; Tacoma, Wash.; and Colorado Springs, Colo. See...

'Real Estate Weekly': Is the fro-yo market melting?

At least seven frozen yogurt locations have closed in Baton Rouge over the past two years, Real Estate Weekly reports, suggesting that what was once one of the hottest trends in the city may be losing its cool. Most recently, Menchie's, located in the College Row Northgate center near LSU, and Splendido! at Highland Road and Lee Drive have closed their doors. Both had opened in 2010. Jonathan Walker, a commercial real estate agent with Maestri-Murrell, points to poor location decisions as the culprit for most of the closings. As with any market trend, entrepreneurs eager to get a piece of the pie can overlook the key factor, Walker says. Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate agrees. "It's got to be where the traffic is," Hebert says. "Typically, the [frozen yogurt] concept works better from 6:30 to 9:30 at night, because you've just finished dinner, you want an evening dessert, and so it's got to be in the traffic patterns." In addition to the frozen yogurt...

Is the fro-yo market melting?

At least seven frozen yogurt locations have closed in Baton Rouge over the past two years, suggesting that what had once been one of the hottest trends in the city may be losing its cool. Most recently, Menchie's, located in the College Row Northgate center near LSU, and Splendido! at Highland Road and Lee Drive, have closed their doors. Both had opened in 2010. Jonathan Walker, a commercial real estate agent with Maestri-Murrell, points to poor location decisions as the culprit for most of the closings. As with any market trend, entrepreneurs eager to get a piece of the pie can overlook the key factor, Walker says. Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate agrees. "It's got to be where the traffic is," Hebert says. "Typically, the [frozen yogurt] concept works better from 6:30 to 9:30 at night, because you've just finished dinner, you want an evening dessert, and so it's got to be in the traffic patterns." In addition to the frozen yogurt closings, Capitol Creamery on...

The Salad Shop set to open this month in Acadian-Perkins Plaza

Bradley Sanchez says he's less than three weeks away from opening up a new restaurant in the Acadian-Perkins Plaza. Sanchez says The Salad Shop, which will offer customized salads and wraps, will focus on a takeout concept. "It's sort of in the vein of Chipotle in terms of ordering process," Sanchez explains. "We call it fast casual." Customers will essentially be able to build their salad or wrap. Variety and choice will be a top priority, says Sanchez, adding customers will be able to choose from four types of lettuce and 50 fresh ingredients—from local vegetables to hard-boiled eggs—as well as antibiotic- and hormone-free meats and over a dozen salad dressings, including some that are homemade and locally sourced. "It's our mission, really, to work with as many locally sourced products as possible," says Sanchez. Due to low overhead—Sanchez is currently hiring about 10 employees—and a takeout focus, Sanchez says The Salad Shop will serve an economical salad...

The remaking of an icon

A grand old 119-year-old Baton Rouge icon has gotten a $2.7 million facelift.

Houma donut shop expanding into B.R. market with Lee Drive location

Houma-based Mr. Ronnie's Famous Hot Donuts is branching out to Baton Rouge, with plans to open a shop on Lee Drive near the intersection of Highland Road. Chris Shaheen of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate says Mr. Ronnie's and a Little Caesars pizza franchise have thus far inked deals to occupy a 6,000-square-foot retail center going up at 216 Lee Drive. The center is expected to be complete in about four months. "They sell donuts and Krystal burgers," says Shaheen of Mr. Ronnie's. "Supposed to be the best donuts in the world." About 2,200 square feet of space remains available in the strip center, Shaheen says, and could be split to accommodate two tenants, if necessary. Isle of Louisiane Car Wash was recently demolished on the site to make way for the development. Just down the road at 320 Lee Drive, Shaheen says, he's also working on the redevelopment of the Extreme Clean Car Wash site. That car wash is also being demolished, and along with a vacant adjacent tract of land,...

Bistro and pasta bar plans November opening on Burbank

Breck's Bistro and Pasta Bar aims to open in early November at 3930 Burbank Drive in the space that housed a Qdoba restaurant until it closed earlier this year. Restaurant owner Breck Mapp, who has been in the restaurant business for 20 years, says the menu will feature a variety of pasta dishes—from BBQ shrimp pasta to spinach and artichoke pasta—as well as paninis and salads. Renovation on the 2,466-square-foot restaurant will begin in the coming weeks, Mapp says, and when completed it will seat roughly 85 people inside and 15 on an outdoor patio. Mapp describes the restaurant as "industrial-themed" with "a lot of hard corners." "It will have a small alcohol bar and a pasta bar where you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs at the back cooking," he says. The restaurant hopes to capitalize on its proximity to the Tiger Stadium, which is less than a mile away. "It's right off of the LSU campus and within walking distance of Tiger Stadium and Alex Box," Mapp says. "I...

Baton Rouge among America's '10 best cities for meat lovers'

Movoto, a web-based real estate firm that regularly puts together quirky top 10 lists, has included Baton Rouge on a new ranking of the nation's top 10 cities for meat lovers. Movoto says it considered the 100 most-populous cities in the U.S. for the list, and ranked them according to the number of steakhouses, butchers, barbecue restaurants, burger joints, hot dog vendors, national barbecue festivals and cattle ranges per capita. While you might assume a Texas city or two would land on the list, they're nowhere to be found. Instead, Orlando, Fla., takes top ranking, followed by Cincinnati; Atlanta; Las Vegas; St. Louis; Birmingham, Ala.; Tulsa, Okla.; and, at No. 8, Baton Rouge—which also has the fifth-most burger joints per capita in the U.S., Movoto says. Honolulu and Tampa, Fla., round out the top 10. Check out the full list, or see a Movito

Embracing the river

When speaking of their vision for the future of downtown, local officials often bring up one key phrase: Embracing the river. We're a river city with not much focus on the river.

Restaurant IPO gets new chef

For the past year Chef Chris Wadsworth has been manning the kitchen of Restaurant IPO, providing downtown with fresh, local flair. However, Chef Scott Varnedoe will replace Wadsworth next week, IPO owner/partner Eric Macicek says. The split is amicable, Macicek and Wadsworth both say. Macicek says Wadsworth was getting worn out in the kitchen and wants to spend more time with his six children. "[Wadsworth] was here day in and day out," Macicek says. "We are happy to support him in whatever endeavors he tackles next." Macicek says Restaurant IPO won't change its menu for the time being but will look to add some new items in the future. "When we contracted [Varnedoe] to help us develop the menu in May 2012, we loved how unique things came out and how interesting the items were," Macicek says. "Scott has a level of execution that is second to none from what I've seen." Wadsworth, who is one of "Padma's Picks" on Top Chef New Orleans and was named a "Chef to Watch" by Louisiana...

Baton Rouge hotel gains outperforming national averages

The lenders who bought back the Marriott Hotel at a foreclosure sale Wednesday say several potential buyers are interested in making an offer on the property when it goes up for sale, likely early next year. While no one knows for sure what the 297-room high-rise will fetch—estimates are in the $28 million to $30 million range—experts say there is a lot of interest in the property, not only because it is an iconic structure in a very visible location, but also because of the promising growth of the local hotel market. According to data from Smith Travel Research provided to Daily Report by NAI/Latter & Blum Commerical Real Estate, daily room rates in Baton Rouge were nearly 7% higher in June than during the same month a year ago. While the average daily rate of...

Embassy Suites Baton Rouge sells for $17.7 million, renovation planned

The 223-room Embassy Suites Baton Rouge on Constitution Avenue will soon kick off a complete renovation, with an anticipated completion date in the summer of 2014, says the hotel’s new manager. Aimbridge Hospitality, the nation’s second-largest independent hotel management and investment firm, was named the hotel’s manager on Tuesday. Today, the previously announced sale of the hotel by Irving, Texas-based FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. was finalized for $17.7 million, according to records filed with the city-parish Clerk of Court’s office. FelCor announced last month it would sell the hotel for $20 million. The hotel’s new owner is ERGS III BR Hotel LLC, represented by Brian Nordahl, who’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as senior vice president and director of the Archon Group, which is a subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group. —Staff report

Chef Don Bergeron talks expansion, hires new executive chef

Don Bergeron's catering and food company is growing, and the chef hints that there's an expansion on the horizon. "We're going have something exciting coming up within the next year," says Bergeron, owner of Chef Don Bergeron Enterprises. "Retail has taken off with our take and bake items and convenience foods. Part of our next move will be expanding on the retail and have a catering facility within the next couple of years." Just last week, Bergeron added Derek Roth as an executive chef. Roth was last working as a lead line cook at Juban's and has previous experience as a sous chef at City Club of Baton Rouge. Roth also helped with food operations at The Pelican House. Trained in classical French techniques, the young chef moved to Louisiana last year from West Virginia. "I was interested in the culinary atmosphere here, for sure," Roth says. "The food intrigues me, and the heart of the food down here ... I wanted to see what that was about." Roth says the growth potential of...

Baton Rouge Marriott sold to lender at foreclosure sale

At a sheriff's sale earlier this morning that took less than 10 minutes, the lender owed some $32 million on the city's high-rise Marriott bought back the hotel for court costs, which amounted to slightly more than $2,200. Granted, attorneys for the lender, CCMS—which foreclosed on the property in May—say they were prepared to bid up to the loan amount had other potential buyers gone up against them at the auction. But CCMS was the only bidder. So what's next for the 297-room Marriott, which, given its highly visible location on Interstate 10 near College Drive, has been a local landmark since it was built in 1976? Local attorney Brett Furr, who represented CCMS at the sale, says his client will put the property on the market, though it will likely be early next year before that happens. Furr could not today put a price tag on the hotel, but local real estate experts estimate its likely asking price between $28 million and $30 million. However, given the 37-year-old...

Crabmeat Maison

A longtime favorite at Galatoire's Restaurant in New Orleans is Crabmeat Maison, the expertly composed, generously portioned cold crab salad that has led off the night for generations of diners at the famed eatery.

B.R. to host inaugural New Year's Eve celebration downtown

Times Square has the dropping of the ball on New Year's Eve. In New Orleans, it's a lighted fleur-de-lis. In Baton Rouge, beginning this year, there will be an annual dropping of a 9-foot tall, LED-illuminated red stick. Mayor Kip Holden joined several private sponsors at North Boulevard Town Square this afternoon to announce "Red Stick Revelry," which will feature daytime and evening activities on Dec. 31. "This will continue the tradition of our other great festivals and concerts and we expect it will be a great draw for the local hotels and businesses as we give people throughout the Capital Region a great new destination for New Year's Eve entertainment," Holden says. The custom-designed red stick will fall from a 30-foot pole attached to the top of the beacon at North Boulevard Town Square. It will be installed sometime in December and removed soon after New Year's Day. Daytime activities on New Year's Eve will include music on the adjacent Galvez Plaza—where a new...

News alert: Baton Rouge to host New Year's Eve celebration downtown

Baton Rouge will host a first annual New Year's Eve celebration downtown this year, with festivities to include the midnight dropping of a custom-designed lighted Red Stick. Called Red Stick Revelry, the event will take place around the North Boulevard Town Square and feature live music on the new stage in Galvez Plaza, including a performance by Phat Hat, as well as daytime events for children and families. Read Daily Report PM for more details.

La. seeks to attract retirees, further promote culture

Several Louisiana cities recently have appeared on national lists of the best places to retire, and that's happened without a strong marketing push, says Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who hopes to build on the good press with the state's Retire Louisiana Style campaign. "Let's go get 'em," says Dardenne, who addressed the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association today in Baton Rouge. He says the campaign's early focus will be veterans. Dardenne also says he wants to put greater focus on the state's creative class, using the "Only in Louisiana" slogan to supplement the familiar "Pick Your Passion." "[With] all of the attributes Louisiana has to offer, we simply need to share them with people, and they're going to come," he says. "We have a strong argument that Louisiana is the birthplace of all American music." He says his office, which is responsible for promoting tourism, is providing small grants to Louisiana musicians in...

Lease pending on former Galatoire's Bistro location

The former Galatoire's Bistro location on Old Perkins Road near the Highland Road I-10 exit soon will be occupied. George Kurz of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate confirmed that a lease on the building is pending. Part of the building will be a new restaurant, with an additional business that will be something "completely different," Kurz says. Kurz could not say who the new tenant is, but did say that patrons can expect a big announcement in September. These new businesses would be in the same center located next to Cyrus Persian Rugs, Pandocchi's Hair Salon and Edit by LBP, a women's clothing store. Galatoire's closed the Old Perkins Road location in March 2011 to move to its new location near the intersection of Perkins Road South Acadian Thruway in January. —Matthew Sigur

Saints-themed Who Dat burger goes on sale Monday at area Sonic Drive-Ins

Saints fans in the Capital Region soon will be able to enjoy some fast food while showing their team spirit. Sonic Drive-In, the Oklahoma-based fast food chain, will begin selling a Who Dat burger at 28 Baton Rouge locations on Monday. The burger will have a "Who Dat!" logo on the bun and will be adorned with Tabasco-spiced mayonnaise, "onion tanglers" and pepper jack cheese, according to NOLA.com. Each order comes with a pack of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. The Who Dat burger goes on sale Monday in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Alexandria and will remain on the menu through the end of the year.

Rocco's Po-boys and Grill to open in September

Rocco's, a New Orleans-style po-boy shop, will open its second Baton Rouge location in September, according to owner Troy Moreau. The new restaurant will be housed in the former Phil's Oyster Bar on Government Street. Moreau says the location is iconic, and the Mid City revitalization prompted him to open a Rocco's there. "You won't find a more eclectic group of people or places to eat from the Jefferson Highway to South Acadian intersections," Moreau says. "This area reminds me a lot of New Orleans. It's a solid piece of old Baton Rouge. It's starting to really come around to what it used to be, where people are moving in instead of moving out." With Mid City's popularity growing, Moreau says he saw an opportunity to bring his flavor to the area. "You've got at least 30 different restaurants with all types of different foods, but there's really no place in that area that sells po-boys and New Orleans cuisine," he says. While the other Rocco's location on Drusilla Lane is a café, the...

Cinnabon eyes B.R. for entry into Louisiana market

International bakery Cinnabon wants to bring its gooey indulgence to the Mall of Louisiana and three other Bayou State locations. The well-known bakery is looking for franchise partners to help open the first full-scale Cinnabon locations in Louisiana. "Right now, they're vetting and searching for franchise partners," says John Arango, an advertising executive who is doing work for Cinnabon. "There's no hard timeline, just as soon as possible." Plans to enter into the Louisiana market were prompted by the closure of a competitor in the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette. "When there's space open in a mall, it's really a huge opportunity for Cinnabon to enter the market," he says. In addition to sites in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Cinnabon also is eying locations in Pecanland Mall in Monroe and Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles. —April Castro

Rising above

Jon Fels says he has no doubt the iconic Baton Rouge Marriott off Interstate 10 can overcome having been seized in July by a lender and emerge from a scheduled Sept. 4 auction to regain its place as the premier hotel in the city.

Cars and cocktails

A local car dealership is taking its new luxury sedan to select hot spots, inviting potential customers to join staff for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. It's a marketing strategy that appears to be attracting attention.

New gourmet popcorn shop to open in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge will get its second gourmet popcorn shop in just a few days. Popology, a popcorn, candy and gift shop, will open within the next week in the Bluebonnet Square shopping center at Airline Highway and Bluebonnet Boulevard, according to owner April Hebert. The store is set to open in the former location of Sprinkle Berry Frozen Yogurt. Hebert developed the idea last fall and started eyeing locations in January. "We realized it was something that Baton Rouge really didn't have," she says. "While we were building our concept, [a gourmet popcorn shop] opened in the mall. We wanted to do something a bit different and more creative." In addition to gourmet popcorn with flavors such as dill pickle, grape, cheesecake, caramel, pizza, baked potato and white chocolate pretzel, guests can also shop for special-occasion gifts. Also on the menu: special sports flavors for Saints, Tigers and Jaguars fans. "Popcorn is one of those things … Who doesn't love popcorn?" Hebert says. "We...

'225 Dine': Ichiban gets a facelift

This week's 225 Dine has an inside look at the facelift just completed on popular sushi and hibachi restaurant Ichiban: "We were planning on building a brand new restaurant on the lot next door," owner Randy Wong tells writer Matthew Sigur. "That did not come to fruition." So Wong did the next best thing: He remodeled his existing business. In mid-May, he closed Ichiban, hoping to have the restaurant ready in a month. However, the work took longer than expected, and Ichiban reopened quietly by late July. "We gutted down everything to the studs, and pretty much everything is brand new," Wong says. He worked with Tang Design, an award-winning interior design company from New York, to give the restaurant a "bigger city" feel. "We wanted to bring something to Baton Rouge that the city doesn't have," he says. "We wanted to mainly give off that very unique, fine dining restaurant vibe, without the fine dining price and dress code." Read the full story and get your fill of more local...

Called in by 'Duck Dynasty,' tourists flocking to Louisiana

John Simmons and his family drove to West Monroe from Iowa this past week for a Duck Commander vacation. "We're spending five days here," Simmons told Gannett Louisiana as he made his way into the cramped Duck Commander retail store. "The kids love it, and they wanted to come before starting school next week." The Simmonses are among an influx of tourists captivated by the A&E smash hit series Duck Dynasty, featuring the West Monroe Duck Commander family led by patriarch Phil Robertson. And Alana Cooper of the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to make sure the visitors spend plenty of time—and money—throughout the market. In fact, Cooper recently unveiled the bureau's "Official Duck Commander Hometown Tour" at the Duck Commander store. Alan Robertson—the beardless brother—and his wife, Lisa, attended the press conference and signed autographs for fans afterward. "We're as excited as anybody," Robertson says. "We never knew we'd be...

Former managing partner at TJ Ribs heads to Stab's in Central

Kevin Kimball, a former managing partner for TJ Ribs, is the new general manager for Stab's Steak and Seafood, a fine dining restaurant in Central that will open later this month. Kimball had worked for TJ Ribs for three years before leaving in the middle of June, but says the decision to leave wasn't because of sour grapes. "The Moran family [of restaurant founder T.J. Moran] is like family to me," he says. "We wanted to part ways while we could all stay friends. It was just time to do something else." Kimball enjoyed six weeks of time off to "go play dad." "I didn't realize my kids had so many baseball games. It was great. It was something you miss when you're in the restaurant business." Kimball has known Stab's co-owner Wayne Stabiler for more than two decades. When the Stab's opportunity came, Kimball says he saw a different challenge. "I wanted to get back to the fine dining aspect of the business," he says. "TJ Ribs was an unbelievable experience for me. I was able to learn a...

'Business Report': Rising culinary star Cody Carroll chooses Baton Rouge

In a culinary scene historically dominated by New Orleans, Baton Rouge's Cody Carroll is an emerging star who has chosen the Capital Region, as Business Report details in its new cover story. "I cooked a lot of rabbit, squirrels, deer. If we had gator around, we'd cook gator. We lived right next to Old River, so I cooked sac-a-lait, catfish, a lot of seafood," recalls Carroll of his childhood in northern Pointe Coupee Parish—in a Cajun accent as thick as cane syrup. When he turned 13, Carroll began spending long stretches of time with his dad at their Grand Isle camp. That's when he got hooked on inventing new and different ways to prepare seafood. "We'd be catching speckled trout, redfish, and I'd be cooking it in as many ways I could think of," he says. Those early experiences and experimentations are now paying dividends. In May, Carroll bested a heavyweight field of culinary artists—including those from Arnaud's and Bayona in New Orleans—to be crowned the...

Baton Rouge's first Panera Bread could break ground this month

Though the final touches still need to be put on a lease for the land, franchisee Tom Krings says construction on Baton Rouge's first Panera Bread could begin as early as the end of this month. "The final version [of the lease] is in the landlord's hands, and we don't anticipate any more delays," says Krings, who owns 23 Panera Bread franchises and has been working to build a Baton Rouge location for years. He had originally hoped to break ground on the roughly 4,500-square-foot building last summer. "We have patiently been working our way into Baton Rouge, but the good news is there are no stumbling blocks in the way of this site as there have been at previous sites we've looked at," Krings says. As an indication of his confidence in getting the final paperwork in order to move forward with construction soon, Krings has put up a sign announcing Panera Bread's future home on the roughly 4-acre site off Jefferson Highway. It's located across the street from American Gateway Bank and...